The BAC congratulates these members whom have reached outstanding training and health milestones. Their photos are placed on our Wall of Fame at the club.
We salute these Bronson Athletic Club members for their extraordinary progress. Read some of their extended personal stories by clicking on the highlighted name links below.
Nancy Ausema (Nominated 2014)
Nancy Ausema grew up in an era when not many sports opportunities were available for girls. After nursing school, she took up tennis, but put that sport on hold after her second child was born. Since joining the BAC as a charter member (and working as a Bronson nurse for 40 years), she has taken a variety of group exercise classes and worked out on the cardio machines. Her husband’s open heart surgery in 2006 was a wake-up call, and Nancy subsequently bumped up her exercise and healthy eating regimens. She started running, completing 5Ks and 10Ks, before finishing her first half marathon in 2014.
Bronson X-ray technologist Sandy Babcock’s weight had gone up and down her whole life. By 2011, she knew she needed a trainer who could work with some knee and back issues. Brian Ladkrood helped her with proper posture and keeping a food log. She started exercising routinely, and now tries several options so she doesn’t get bored. Sandy is thankful she did not have to undergo bariatric surgery to lose the extra 95 pounds she once carried. She says she feels 10 years younger, and that when you’re physically fit, “Age is just a number.” Her exercise routine is now an addiction, but “It’s one I can live with!”
W.E. (Wil) Billings (Nominated 2015)
Former collegiate baseball player and varsity coach Wil Billings was thrown a curve ball when a partial Achilles tendon tear in 2010 further sidelined his active lifestyle. He joined the BAC for the swimming pools, and found that water exercise with a float belt and web gloves helped alleviate painful walking and foot movements. Coming daily to the gym (and sometimes twice daily), Wil enjoys the benefits of water work, citing the stress-release and calming attributes. “No other type of exercise was possible at that time,” he recalls. “Through lower body massage therapy, and with some medical treatments short of surgery, and with the regular water exercising, I am very thankful that I received a full healing."
A charter member of the BAC, Chuck Cubbage has beat medical issues, including quadruple bypass surgery and a later procedure to unclog a carotid artery. Then at age 69 in 2007, sharp knee pain prompted him to undergo total knee replacements six weeks apart. Overcoming uncomfortable post-op therapy (and thanks to the encouragement of his therapists), he can flex his knees over 150 degrees. “That’s like kicking your fanny,” he explains. “Full squat? No problem! You can move from PT right into the care of a great trainer. It makes rehab progress seamless!” Chuck also credits his trainer’s nutrition advice to his reclaimed vigor. “BAC’s emphasis on nutrition is a great partner in anyone’s health toolbox.”
Jon and Susan Dixon (Nominated 2014)
While an executive with Bronson Methodist Hospital, Jon Dixon was one of the driving forces to build Bronson Athletic Club. As Charter Member No. 3, he and wife Susan continue to make the BAC central to their lifestyle, visiting at least five times a week. Over the years they have had surgeries that required short-term rehab and follow-up workouts at the club. “As older adults with chronic health issues, we have been committed to remain as active as possible to minimize the issues and maintain a higher level of fitness,” they say. “Having rehabilitation and the club together has provided us with a seamless opportunity to regain maximum function.”
Bob and Lisa Graver (Nominated 2015)
For a couple who met at a gym and whose first date was at a bodybuilding show, it figures that working out is a family priority. Friends joke that Bob and Lisa Graver are always at the gym. The two train five days a week at the BAC—a place they consider like a second home. When Bob trained for three bodybuilding shows in 2015, the result was eight trophies in three weeks. “The pride our family felt was overwhelming, and the pride and respect our‘second family’ gave through this process was immeasurable,” Lisa says. “Some days when he would feel tired and almost defeated in his workouts, someone at BAC would give him a suggestion, support, an attaboy—and he was back on the track to success.”
Dr. Al and Rita LaReau (Nominated 2014)
Longtime competitive runners (both Chicago Marathon finishers), the LaReaus joined the BAC to diversify their exercise training, including swimming. The couple has progressed from poor to novice swimmers to being able to complete triathlons with open water swimming, which they both accomplished in 2014. The sunrise duo are among the BAC’s earliest regulars. “Being a morning person, I particularly enjoy the early classes and workouts,” Al says. “The camaraderie of my colleagues at the BAC helps to get the day off to a good start.” Rita adds, “From the welcoming staff to the enthusiastic and encouraging fellow members, the BAC also provides a very upbeat and fun way to exercise.”
John and Christel Roehr (Nominated 2014)
There are regular swimmers at the Bronson Athletic Club—and then there are John and Christel Roehr, both natives of Germany. John learned to swim in 1943, but hobbies were interrupted by World War II and its aftermath. He has been in the water regularly since the 1970s. Christel took up swimming after their children had grown. The couple has no plans to hang up their towels any time soon. Both Roehrs say they can see the health benefits from regular swimming, especially as they’ve gotten older. The octogenarians swam every day until cutting back to four days a week in recent years. They credit the BAC with helping them continue doing “something right” to keep them in the swim.